Beer Review: Rogue Kulture Clash

Photo by Kevin Gibson

Photo by Kevin Gibson

Collaborations and beer infusions have become a staple of craft brewing, and Rogue Ales & Spirits recently released one that comes out of left field in Kulture Clash, a blend of imperial blonde ale and kombucha tea. It is packaged in a tall, green bottle with an image of a sloth holding a beer in one hand and a beer with one of his feet as he is poised in a tree. He’s a sloth with a back story.

This beer is a collaboration blend between Rogue (Oregon Brewery of the Year in the 2018 NY International Beer Competition) and Brew Dr. Kombucha, a Portland, Ore., tea and kombucha brewery that opened in 2006. The sloth is a mascot of sorts for the kombucha producer, a sloth they call Otis Sisgood that represents the deliberate, slow nature in which they produce their goods.

So it is that Otis found his way onto the bottle, as the beer also was a product of patience, according to the brew’s back story. That’s the Otis effect, it would seem.“He's not only a source of wisdom and levity,” according to Rob Nollendberger, the brand manager for Brew Dr. Kombucha, “but a constant reminder to take your time and do things right. Can't rush the fermentation goodness."

Fair enough.

The base beer was brewed just for the collaboration, as was the kombucha – they literally were created to complement one another. Together, they created a hazy, golden copper beer that pours with an ample white head. So far, so good.

One whiff, and the kombucha comes to the fore, with a notable pungency, a bit of earthiness and possibly green fruit in the nose. It smelled a bit like a sour ale made with wild yeast. Intriguing, for sure.

Take a drink, and one is struck by the creaminess of the body – it’s semi-thick, and yet leans toward the refreshing side. Semi-sweet, all the flavor comes to the front of the palate. The kombucha is assertive in this one, with tangy fruitiness and a bit of acidity. In fact, I found myself at times searching in vain for the base beer – kombucha was prominent on my palate.

Interestingly, the concoction’s flavors quickly dissipate on the back end, coming to a clean, crisp finish. Kulture Clash is a new one on me, I must admit. If you’re a fan of kombucha, this one might be right up your alley, and with a relatively moderate 6.9 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not over the top in any sense. Makes for a fine summer sipper.

This beer is a limited release, so keep your eyes peeled at your favorite bottle shop. Kulture Clash will be gone before you know it. Unlike your typical sloth.